Monday, November 26, 2007

Banana Walnut Muffins with Dulce de Leche Frosting

I adapted this recipe from All Recipes to incorporate some dulce de leche, and to add frosting - not just any frosting but my new favorite frosting. This frosting also goes well with carrot cake, apple cake and anything pumpkin.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda or powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup dulce de leche
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, walnuts and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and dulce de leche. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into muffin cups
3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.


12 ounces cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche

Mix cream cheese and dulce de leche until very well blended. Spread on muffins. Refrigerate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

May I Have Your Recipe?

... for a holiday fruitcake people might actually eat... and with gusto? How about Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake, courtesy David Lebovitz? Yum. I might throw in some candied chestnuts and chestnut puree and call it an In the Bag dessert for the contest over on A Slice of Cherry Pie. Except I have another chestnut-chocolate recipe I want to make for that.

Here is another great recipe, for all of us who love maple syrup, maple cream pie, from The Smitten Kitchen.

And Exclusively Food's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Modify this recipe by substituting orange flavoring for vanilla, throwing in a pinch of oraneg zest and using only dark chocolate chips.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Edible Cups and Fresh Fruit Soda

Edible but not too tasty, but disposable and biodegradable at least...

I don't know why I didn't think of this before. Back in food science class, we scooped out the fruit from oranges, leaving the shells intact except for part lopped off the top. We juiced the fruit, added sugar, gelatin and cream, put this into the emptied orange shells, then chilled it.

If I cut a bit more off the top, it would make an excellent glass. In India we have sweet limes, which are as big as oranges, so I used the juice for a fresh lime soda:

Per serving

1/4 cup sweet lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
a sprig of mint
4 ounces soda water

Mix all ingredients and pour into the emptied sweet lime shells. Garnish with a sprig of mint. In summer, freeze the fruit shells to stiffen them up and provide extra cooling. These can also be used for ice water or fruity cocktails. Of course, coconut sheels and hollowed out pineapples have long been used as beverage containers.

Next I try stiff, frozen gelatin cups...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Edible Dishes

Last night I served a lot of things in edible dishes -- less cleanup, and they look nice. So there was cucumber, dill sour cream and smoked salmon in cucumber cups, potato corn soup in phyllo cups and artichoke emmenthal cheesecake in carrot cups (the carrot cups were superb, but I overbaked the cheesecakes and didn't serve them, alas). Next time I might experiment with plates made of baked bread and am trying to figure out a way to make drinking glasses of hard sugar candy -- once I figure out how to make a mold for them.

For dessert we had dulce de leche pumpkin custard pie. Here's David Lebovitz's recipe for making Dulce De Leche.

Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Custard Pie

15 ounces of cooked or canned pumpkin
1 cup dulce de leche
3/4 cup cream
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp, cinnamon
1/4 tsp,. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch salt

1- 9" pie crust.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bake pie crust at that temperature for 8 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake ten minutes longer. Remove from oven.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, cream, dulce de leche, and egg yolks. Beat until well blended. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites gently into pumpkin mixture and pour into pie crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until clean knife inserted into center comes out mostly clean, with just a few flecks of pumpkin on the knife. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Carrot Cups

These make edible dishes for all sorts of fillings.

2 cups grated carrots
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Squeeze all moisture possible out of the carrots (this is very important). Add salt and pepper and mix well. Add egg and mix well, Add flour,mix well.

Grease a muffin tin very very well. Put a large spoonful of mixture into muffin cup and press to coat the bottom and sides. The mixture should be about 1/8 inch thick, and even all over. Make sure there are no gaps or holes.

When all the muffin cup are done, put in 400 degree oven for ten minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until gently browned. Let cool, and then remove from muffin tins using a knife to loosen them. grease a cookie sheet. Place the carrot cups upside down on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20minutes more until bottoms are lightly brown and cups are crisp.

Fill with stew, soup, ratatouille, mashed potato or a cream cheese appetizer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

12:03 a.m. meal and 3:45 a.m. Snack

I made half-whole wheat egg noodles last night:

1 cup superfine flour or maida
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt

Make well in 2 cups flour. Put eggs in well. Add salt. Stir until well mixed. Roll out thin, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips, let dry.

I boiled them up tonight in some seasoned chicken stock, threw in some parboiled brocolli and ate that with the homemade beer bread I made a couple of days ago.

A few hours later I was hungry again, so I took a piece of beer bread and toasted it lightly, then spread some pesto on it, very thin, topped it with three big sundried tomatoes, and then topped it all with shards of parmesan cheese. Broiled the lot in a 250 degree oven until the cheese was melted. Heaven.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This recipe was developed by some friends who tried to market the product to some big (but ethical) cosmetic companies as a budget cosmetic product that supported the fair trade tea industry as well (it was going to use discard fair trade tea leaves). It turns out those big companies are only interested in expensive products. So here is the recipe for you to make at home. This is an under-eye patch with an all natural lotion. You need a juicer for this.

1 foot of unbleached cotton
1 quart glass jar
pH strips

3tbsp. cucumber juice
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
1/2 cup glycerine
1/3 cup evening primrose oil
2 Tbsp. green tea extract
1/4 tsp. lecitihin
1/8 tsp - 1/4 tsp. agar
2 drops peppermint (optional)

Mix all ingredients except agar and peppermint in a sauce pan and simmer. Add agar, bit by bit, whisking just until the mixture has a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and add 1-2 tiny drops of peppermint extract. Whisk and test with ph strip. It should come in at around 7. If it is off, add a bit more aloe vera and primrose oil and test again. If it is too acidic, add a bit more cucumber juice and test again. Pour into sterilized glass jar. Refrigerate.

Cut clean, unbleached cotton into paisley shapes, about 1 inch long. Store in a dry container. When ready to use, dip two of the patches into the tea mixture and place under eyes. Before you do this, test a patch on your wrist to make sure you aren't allergic or overly sensitive to the ingredients.

I like the zing of the mint. it wakes me up and gives me an aromatherapeutic charge. But some people are sensitive to it so use the mint judiciously, if at all.

Use the excess fabric to make "I*Openers." Cut them into thin strips or dots and dip them in the minty mixture and place them on your temples for a quick pick me up.

If you copy this recipe over please attribute and link to the creators

Bacon Artichoke Cheesecake

I'm doing an early thanksgiving this year for a mixed group, American, Canadian, Australian and Indian. The pumpkin for the Pumpkin custard tart is almost ripe, and the turkey comes Friday. Also on the menu, two salads (a farfale pasta salad with grilled peppers, broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, an apple-walnut-celery and butter lettuce salad, plus homemade bread, stuffing, potatoes, gravy and two appetizers, one tba, and the following savoury cheesecake:

1 cup crushed crackers
1/3 melted butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 eggs separated
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup crumbled bacon, drained and fat removed
1 cup preserved artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp,. white pepper

1/2 cup ground coarse almonds, toasted lightly
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Grease an 9x9 inch springform pan with cooking oil or spray with Pam.

For the crust, grind crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. (I like to use a combination of saltines and onion-garlic crackers and am tempted by ry-krisps.) Add butter and parmesan and mix well. Press crumb mixture into pan. Refrigerate.

For the filling, beat cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add salt and pepper, then egg yolks, cream and sour cream. Mix until airy and fluffy. Whip egg whites and fold them into this mixture gently. Then fold in artichokes pieces and crumbled bacon. (Note: squeeze all the moisture from the bacon and the artichoke pieces with paper or clean cloth towels before adding them.) Pour over the cracker crumb crust. Bake at 360 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until just set in the center. Top with your choice of topping. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares.

Vegetarians can substitute chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes for the bacon. Vegans might want to try one of these recipes .

Other fans of savoury cheesecake might like to try this Roquefort and pear cheesecake from Delia.

For Salmon cheesecake, substitute the bacon and artichokes with 1 cup smoked salmon, chopped up, and 1/2 cup grated emmenthal cheese.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beer Bread

This is a very easy beer bread recipe I adapted from Jodi Regan on It makes a heavy, dense bread great with soups or stews. I made a few modifications so the bread would be a bit lighter and airier.


1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
3 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp grated parmesan

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Batter will be sticky. Divide dough into two parts and put into greased loaf pans. Cover and let sit in warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When loaves have risen a bit, put in oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and return to oven for 3-5 minutes. This bread looks very "country." Note that you can replace the butter with olive oil or canola and the grated cheese with slivered almonds, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Midnight Snack 2:39 a.m.

Baked apple

1 apple cored
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
tiniest pinch ground clove

1 scoop frozen low-fat vanilla yogurt

Core apple so the bottom of apple remains intact, and keep the stem top.

Mix well butter, brown sugar and spices. Put this into the middle of the apple. If the well in the apple created by coring is not big enough, widen it a bit to accommodate the filling. Put top back on apple and place it into a greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until apple flesh is tender but not mushy. Serve with a dollop of frozen vanilla yogurt.

I had no frozen yogurt so had it without. It’s also good without the filling if you find a flavorful apple.

Alternate fillings:

Sharp cheddar cheese and toasted walnuts and or crumbled bacon

Sweetened cream cheese

Spiced red wine or liqueur of your choice.

I once stuffed phyllo pieces on top of the filling, fanned them out, baked them, then served them as Upside Down Apple Pies. Ok, it's stretch, but they bought it. Vegans can replace the butter with 1/2 tbsp. of canola oil.

May I Have Your Recipe?

Last night I roasted a chicken to get fat for the roast potatoes I am currently addicted to from Julia's A Slice of Cherry Pie blog. I made them Saturday with olive oil and they were delicious so I thought I'd try them with chicken fat. I'll use the chicken meat in a soup tomorrow.

And here are some other recipes I pulled off the blogs in the last few days:

Chocolate Caramel Slice from Baked.

Artichoke and Cheese Tarts from A Taste of Tina.

Beggar's Burgers from Green Gourmet Giraffe.

Coconut Ladoo from Aromas of My Food.

Scarborough Fair Martini from Five O'Clock Shakes.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday Dinner + Salad from Leftovers

Saturday I hosted a dinner for an American photojournalist, his wife and their very funny Mumbai friend. In addition to the meat, a simple roast, we had these delicious roast potatoes sprinkled with rosemary and served with a choice of sour cream or mayonnaise, homemade bread, grilled peppers, this asparagus, and for dessert, strawberries in phyllo cups with whipped cream.

Today I used the leftover asparagus and peppers and made another farfale salad, with 1 quart of cooked farfale, 1 cup asparagus (al dente), 1 cup chopped grilled peppers, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, salt and pepper, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/4 cup fresh tomatoes and 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup parboiled carrots, 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/3 cup crumbled bacon, fat removed. Sinful tasting, but aside from the bit of bacon, very good for one. This is tonight's midnight snack and lunch and dinner for the next two days.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

May I Have Your Recipe?

One of the side dishes I made for a dinner last night was this asparagus recipe from Simply Recipes. It was perfect:

1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.

2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Homemade Bread

Yesterday I made bread using the recipe below from, and I've had little open faced sandwiches all day, homemade bread with a thin layer of butter + cucumber slices + a dollop of aoili + salt and pepper, homemade bread drizzled with olive oil and covered with sun-dried* tomatoes, homemade bread with a leaf of butter lettuce + a basil leaf + a sun-dried tomato + a slice of fresh mozz.


6 to 7 c. bread or unbleached flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast (Fleischmann's regular or Rapid Rise)
2 1/2 c. water (tap water, very hot to wrist)
Egg white for glaze

I use a heavy duty mixer because of the large amount of flour.
Put about 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into a large mixer bowl. Mix by hand. Then mix in the water, again by hand. Mix by machine, adding more flour as needed using dough hook. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. Cover with inverted mixer bowl and let rest for 15 minutes approximately.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Form a baguette from each piece by first beating it with your palm into an oval approximately 5x3 inches. Then roll the oval into a rope. Flatten the top with your hand (POUND IT) while simultaneously stretching it to about 2 feet long. Fold the flat rope into thirds and pound it with your palm into a rectangle approximately 10x4 inches. Roll the rectangle into a baguette. Place in prepared baguette pans. Make three 1/4 inch deep slashes with razor blade. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Brush baguettes with beaten egg white. Cover; let rise in warm place, about 45 minutes.

START WITH COLD OVEN. Put small pan of boiling water in bottom of oven. Spray (mist) the loaves with warm water. Start the oven at 450 degrees; after 10 minutes, spray loaves again, filling oven with mist. Continue baking for a total of approximately 35 minutes.

If loaves don't "thump" done and look nice and brown, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and check at 5 minute intervals for a nice hollow "thump." Cool as usual on wire racks. Please note, my baguettes have never looked like the ones you get in proper French bakeries, but they taste pretty good, and every time I try this I get a little bit closer to the ideal.

* Italian food is very popular here, so now it is possible to get very good and inexpensive, locally-grown and packed Italian foods. I've been eating sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil like it is going out of style.

Friday, November 9, 2007

3:38 a.m. Snack

Penne with olive oil, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts, oregano and sun-dried tomatoes.

That and a pinch of salt is the recipe in its entirety. Toast the pine nuts and roast the garlic while the penne is cooking. Took 20 minutes. Very satisfying.

Diwali Fruit and Nut Scones

Dried fruit and nuts are traditional during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. I make these scones for friends who celebrate the holiday. But they're nice anytime of the year.


1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
½ cup walnuts
2- 2 1/2 cups cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk or half and half
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently stir in raspberries, taking care to keep them as whole as possible. Add walnuts and dried cherries. If mixture is too moist add a little more flour.

Whisk eggs with 1/3 cup of milk or half-and-half. Gently stir into the flour mixture.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Gently roll into round shape, ½ inch thick. Cut into wedges and plce on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. While baking, mix remaining milk with brown sugar and drizzle on top of scones. Bake 3-5 minutes longer.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spiced Cider Applesauce

This is a lovely sauce for pork or chicken. Instead of the usual puree style apple sauce, this one uses apple slices poached in spiced cider.


1 quart apple cider
3 cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cumin (optional)
1/2 cup Calvados (optional)
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt

2 tbsp. flour

8 apples, Granny Smith or Macintosh, cored, peeled and sliced

Mix all ingredients but flour and apples in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn to lowest setting and let simmer for at least 1/2 hour. Add apple slices and simmer until apples are cooked but still slightly firm. Remove apples from cider and set aside.

Remove one half cup of the cider mixture and cool. Add it to the flour and whisk until you have a fine paste. Add slowly to the saucepan, whisking as you do, and stir until sauce is thickened to a syrup consistency. If it is too thick, add some more cider, gradually, until you get the desired consistency, Add apples and simmer for 5-10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to make sure sauce doesn't burn. Serve sauce over pork chops or chicken breasts.

I sometimes add 1/4 tsp. of cumin, as a cumin lover. If you're serving grownups, you can add 1/3-1/2 cup Calvados to give it a little extra zing.

If you have more than you need, you can preserve it with the hot water process, or simply pour into a glass container and save in the fridge for a few days.

Trojan Horse Stuffed Double Potatoes

This is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables. I make these with half mashed potato and half mashed sweet potato, but you could sneak a carrot in there as well. These baked potatoes are a great hiding place for veggies kids might not eat on their own.


4 baking potatoes
4 sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. milk
4 cloves of garlic (or 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of cumin -- see below)
1/2 cup diced lean ham
salt and pepper

Roast garlic. Bake your potatoes, sweet and plain, as usual. Remove inside of sweet potatoes and puree with the roasted garlic. Remove inside of baking potatoes (keep the skins). Mash potatoes with butter and milk. Add sweet potato garlic mixture and diced ham. Mix well and put in baking potato skins, piling them high. Put in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve as is or with sour cream.

If you find you have more potato mixture than the skins can handle, don't worry. Just add a bit of beaten egg, milk, baking powder and flour to the excess and turn them into double potato pancakes for breakfast.

I love roasted garlic but many kids prefer this dish with a bit of cinnamon and cumin instead.

Vegetarians can take out the ham, and vegans can also replace the butter with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and substitute soy milk for cow milk.

You can replace the sweet potato portion of the recipe with pureed spinach (add some toasted slivered almonds or a little pesto too), or thick tomato confit (not juicy or your filling will turn to liquid,) sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Banana Orange Crepes

I used to make this one in my college dorm room and it is still a favorite of mine. (I ran with a crowd who could make great four-course meals with a hot plate and a toaster oven so standards were a little higher than the usual one-pot fudge or popcorn.) Ready made crepes and aerosol whipping cream make this one a breeze.

You'll need three long dishes, a little longer than a banana.


4 firm, but not green, bananas
2 cups orange juice
2 Tbsp. Cointreau
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. orange zest
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup milk
cooking oil
whipped cream
8 small ready made crepes

Mix orange juice, cointreau, orange zest and sugar until sugar is dissolved and pour into a long, wide dish, at least 2 inches deep.

Cut bananas in half lengthwise. Put in orange juice mixture and let soak for 15 minutes.

Beat egg and milk and pour into another long dish.

Mix flour and cinnamon and put into the third long dish.

Heat 1/4 inch of canola oil in a large fry pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove 1/2 banana carefully and dip in egg milk mixture. Then dip in flour cinnamon mixture until well-coated. Fry in hot oil for about two minutes on each side, or until very lightly browned. Drain on paper towel then carefully roll banana in crepe and place in greased baking pan. Continue with rest of bananas. When all the bananas are fried and rolled in crepes, put the pan in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Take orange juice mixture and boil until it is syrupy. You can thicken it with a tablespoon of the dipping flour if you like.

Serve crepes hot in a pool of the orange sauce. Top with whipped cream. You can make this without the crepes, but I think of the crepes as a fail-safe measure. If the bananas break up, the crepe hides the damage.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

May I Have Your Recipe?

A few of the delicious recipes I took off the web this week (these links open in a new window):

Cantaloupe Caviar via Hungry in Hogtown.

Basic Vanilla Marshmallows from Brownie Points.

Sweet Sushi from Brownie Points.

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup from Smitten Kitchen.
Chicken Chianti from Leftover Queen.
I learned something new about roasting potatoes.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

When I was in college, one of my classmates gave me a small round box of Breton salted caramels she'd picked up in France. I love the taste of caramel, but its over-sweetness is too much for me. But the Breton caramels were perfect, the salt in them cut the sweetness just enough. Once I discovered you could buy the caramels in the fancy food shops of New York, I was unstoppable. I used Breton caramels to coat candy apples, making them possibly the most expensive caramel apples in the world, and found the salt a perfect complement to the tartness of the apples too. Later I applied the principle to a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, upping the salt in the recipe (and removing the pecans):

Pastry for two 9" pie crusts
8 Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tbsp.Flour
2/3 cup Butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt, as per your taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add salt. Add brown sugar, stirring often, until the mixture is the consistency of syrup. If it is not salty enough for you, this is when you add a little more. Remove from heat.
Mix apples with flour until all are lightly coated. Pour brown sugar-butter mixture into apples and stir until are all lightly coated. Pour apple filling into pastry shell and top with remaining pastry circle. Seal, and bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes, then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for 35 minutes longer, or until crust is nicely and lightly browned. Let cool for at least 1/2 hour. Serve with creme fraiche or a dollop of ice cream.

Want more caramel? Try this gem from the Smitten Kitchen.
"Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes."
Robert Greene (1590) Arcadia

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Farfale Salad with Grilled Peppers

When my camera is fixed I will take a photo of this salad and post it. It is lovely jewel-like salad, flavorful and healthy. I make a big bowl once or twice a week and keep in the fridge to snack on.

3 red peppers
3 yellow peppers
3 orange peppers
2 green peppers
6 gloves garlic
1 large cucumber
3 tomatoes

1 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbes de provence
1/4 tsp. crushed oregano.

3 quarts water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
enough Farfale pasta to make 1 quart

Put 3/4 cup olive oil in large roasting pan. Cut peppers in half, remove stems and seeds and place skin side up in roasting pan. Add the cloves of garlic, skins still on. Broil at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until peppers are blackened. Cool. Take peppers out, and reserve olive oil. Remove skin. Chop in small pieces all but one half of each color pepper, red, yellow, orange and green. Put in small bowl. Remove skins from roasted garlic and mash up. Mix with the peppers pieces. Cut up cucumber and tomatoes and add to peppers and garlic. Add 3/4 cup of the olive oil not used in the grilled peppers, 1/4 tsp. sea salt and herbs. Stir and let sit. Reserve the remaining half peppers for garnish.

Boil up farfale pasta according to package directions, adding 1/4 tsp, sea salt to the water. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and toss with the olive oil reserved from the roasting pan. Cool, and then add the diced peppers and olive oil mixture. Stir in Balsamic vinegar. Cut remaining peppers into strips and garnish salad with them.

This salad is even better the next day, after the flavors have mixed. This makes a nice vegetarian dish - make it even healthier with some brolloci and carrots -- but it's also good with tuna or medium rare strips of beef sirloin. That's the great thing about pasta salad, it leaves a lot of room for individual variations.

Where I Want to Go When I Die

Grilled peppers always make me think of dinner at L J's home in Vermont. She made them, perfectly, the flesh cooked just right, soft and tender but not mushy, lightly lightly caramelized in their own sweet spicy juices. Many attempts to replicate them brought mixed and never quite satisfactory results.

But L J had the advantage of working in a near-perfect kitchen. L J had an old Victorian house, with a huge kitchen that was bigger than the apartment I was living in at the time. It was a room of dark woods and rounded corners with a mix of warm and cheery colors only she would think of and pull off. She had the dining table in the kitchen as well as two sofas and a couple of comfortable overstuffed armchairs. Her kitchen was her living room. Brilliant.

It was well-organized -- she had a lot of workspace and room to move, and built in storage cupboards that were big enough to hide a body. But it wasn't anal, it was comfortable and cozy without being cloying, and full of endearing details, like little lamps that gave the illusion of eating in moonlight. It was the most beautiful kitchen I've ever seen.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pork Chops with Pears and Rum

I used to stay at a friend's farm for months at a time to chill and recharge, and would often cook on their wood stove. Food just tastes better cooked this way, though it's a bad way to cook delicate things as temperature control is difficult. But this dish was easy, and delicious.

6 pork loin chops
1 32 ounce can pears, or 6 pears, peeled, cored and poached
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup rum
1 Tbsp. oil
salt and pepper

Heat up fry pan. Brown chops on high heat, then reduce heat, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until chops are just barely done. Add butter. When butter is melted, add sugar. When this is almost caramelized, add pears and half of rum, cover and put into 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning chops once or twice in the pan to make sure they are coated with the sauce. Remove from oven and add rest of rum. Serve.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bean-Bell Pepper Dip

I adapted this from the Vegan Chef.

1 red pepper, seeded, and cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 - 15 oz. can cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
3-4 preserved Sun dried tomatoes.

And I quote: Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the pepper and onion in rows on the foil. Broil the vegetables for 5-7 minutes or until slightly charred, and remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Flip over the vegetables, add the cloves of garlic to the cookie sheet, return the cookie sheet to the oven, and broil an additional 5-7 minutes to slightly char the other side. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then gently remove the skin from the peppers. In a food processor or blender, place the roasted vegetables, white beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and process until smooth. Add the herbs and process for an additional 30 seconds to thoroughly incorporate it. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl. Use as a spread on crackers, bread, or sandwiches, or serve with raw vegetables. End quote.

I like it with some herbes de provence instead of the 3 Tbsp. of parsley the Chef recommends. You can also add a few sundried tomatoes preserved in olive oil (drain them first) to the food processor to give it a little extra tang.

Moroccan Lamb Pear Tagine

The North Africans do such interesting things with Lamb and fruit, with sweet and spicy. This for instance:

2 lbs. lean lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 cubes
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 small onions, diced
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper (black)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Heat oil in large saucepan and fry onion until caramelized. Mix in the spices. Add lamb and water just to cover the lamb cubes. Cover and simmer 2 hours, checking periodically to ensure the water hasn't dried up. When meat is tender, add pears, almonds and raisins. Cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until the pears are tender. Serve with rice or couscous. Leftovers heat up nicely and make a good, yes, midnight snack.

A proper earthenwaretagine is on my wish list.

Poor Girl's Caviar Dip

Sturgeon caviar is prohibitively expensive, but it's perfectly fine to splurge on the lumpfish variety. Eat this with blinis , whole wheat toasts or black bread.

2 ounces black lumpfish roe
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. onions chopped fine
one boiled egg chopped
pinch lemon zest

Combine all ingredients, except capers. Do not add salt. The lumpfish roe is salty enough. Garnish with the capers.


I love bread, so naturally, I am a big sandwich person, and am always on the lookout for new and old ideas for sandwich fillings. One of the most interesting sandwiches I've ever had was simple, a fried egg between mint leaves, on whole wheat bread, lightly spread with butter, salt and pepper. This was the creation of my friend Manu in India. It was perfect with morning tea. Only he would think to combine mint and fried egg. When I went home I tried it with basil, and it wasn't bad at all, but the mint was something special.
The baguette is a great vehicle for all sorts of fillings.

1. Fresh mozz, sliced farm tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves, drizzled with herb-infused olive oil.

2. A classic, nice Italian ham, butter lettuce and emmenthal cheese

3. Nutella and bananas, sliced lengthwise

4. Grilled peppers, peeled and dripping with olive oil, with thin shards of parmesan reggiano and/or Italian sausage

5. The salad of your choice. I recommend salade landaise or salade nicoise -- the latter makes a very upscale, delicious and simple tuna salad sandwich

6. Peanut butter and a) honey b) jam c) bananas or d) crispy bacon. I like c and d together. Yeah, me and Elvis.

Sometimes all you need is the bread and butter, like when you get hold of some proper Russian black bread. Add a cold beer and you've got two servings of grain in the deal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Swiss-Romanisch Capuns

We ate these in Disentis, in the Romanisch part of the Swiss Alps. They were made by the self-proclaimed King of Capuns. If you're watching your cholesterol, avoid these. They don't look like much but oh my, are they delicious.

We were in Switzerland in the off-season, early October, an excellent time to be there. These were served as a side to the most tender and velvety venison I have ever eaten. There was also wonderful French bread and a delicious Swiss wine, red if I recall correctly. It may have been called "grains de malice."

I adapted this recipe from

2/3 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1/8 cup Milk and water mixed
2 Tbsp Chives, chopped
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp Rosemary sprigs, chopped
2 Tbsp Basil, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
½ cup Lean bacon, cut in small cubes
1/2 cup Buendner Salsiz cheese or Landjaeger, cut in small cubes

16 Whole Swiss chard leaves
Salted water

4 Tbsp Butter
2 cups Vegetable broth
6 Tbsp. Heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup grated emmenthal

Mix the flour and the salt together. Mix the eggs with the milkwater combo and add to the flour.Form a smooth dough with the kitchen spoon. Add the herbs, onions and the meat. Let it rest for 1/2 hrs. Cut out the middle white part of the Swiss chard and half the leaves. Cook quickly insalted water. Drain and dry. Spread on a towel. Add the filling with a teaspoon and form littlepackages. Saute them in the butter until browned on all sides.

Pour the broth and the cream over them and grind some pepper overthem.Cook covered for about 15 min next day to finish). Put them all into a big pan or two little ones

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and emmenthal and transfer to oven. Broil for five minutes or until cheese on top is melted. Serve on a plate in a pool of the sauce (as shown).

Swedish Smoked Salmon Spread

This is so delicious on crackers, ry-krisps, blinis or bread. I got this from a generous friend in Stockholm (who also introduced me to the wonders of princess cake.)

16 ounces smoked salmon, chopped up finely
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces thick sour cream
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
4 Tbsp shallots, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Bring the butter to room temperature. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well-blended. Refrigerate. Before serving, bring to room temperature.

“When a blind man carries a lame man both go forward.”
Swedish Proverb

Russian Minsky Salad

I got this recipe from a Russian comedienne. It's a very hearty and piquant salad that goes well with pork dishes. It's also a good hangover remedy after vodka drinking, or so I'm told. I'm skeptical. But the salad is delicious.


1 lb. potatoes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced.
3/4 cup sauerkraut
1/8 cup onion, finely chopped. (We like red onion.)
2 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch salt
Mix oil, vinegar and sugar. Set aside.
Boil potatoes, cool, and then slice. Add mushrooms, chopped onion and sauerkraut and mix. Add dressing and mix gently into potato mixture until all is blended. Serves 4.
The leftovers are great as a midnight snack, or you can mix it up very quickly if you have coooked potatoes in the fridge. I've be known to cook the potoatoes at 1 a.m. and make the salad from scratch.
See what Czarina Alexandra of Russia had for lunch one day in 1914.

Okinawan Sweet Fritters

These are delicious red bean fritters I got hooked on when I lived in Japan. I found this recipe on, and make them a couple times a month.


1 large egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chunky or smooth Japanese red bean paste
6 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

In a small bowl, combine egg and milk. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the egg and milk to the flour mixture; stir until blended. Stir in bean paste. In a wok or shallow pan, heat oil to 350 F (175C). Drop batter into the hot oil by the tablespoonful. Fry fritters 3 to 5 minutes, turning often to brown evenly. Cut open one fritter to be sure the batter is cooked inside. Roll hot fritters in sugar or serve plain. Makes about 12 fritters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Italian Hot Chocolate

When I was younger, and doing the backpack-around-Europe thing with a friend, we had this at a little restauraunt in the Italian alps, just over the border from Switzerland. It's somewhere between a hot chocolate mousse and a hot chocolate drink, and it is pure heaven. I am not sure where the recipe came from, it has been in my recipe file for so long, so I apologize for not having an attribution. The adults like the dark chocolate version. I made a slightly sweeter version for the kids.

Per Cup, Grownup version:

2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 teaspoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated fine
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

Per cup, Children's version

2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 teaspoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated fine
1 ounce milk chocolate, grated fine
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

Melt the chocolate and set aside. Combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the arrowroot until smooth. Put remaining milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer. When it begins to bubble, add the sugar. then carefully whisk the arrowroot milk mixture into it until it thickens. Remove from heat, mix in melted chocolate, pour into cups and top with orange zest. Serve immediately.

Esterhazy Flourless Walnut Torte

I made this for a food science class back in high school.

I'd had a series of disasters previous to that, culminating with the garish hot pink hot chicken salad (with bright orange baby carrots and green peas) which made my instructor dizzy, so she was skeptical of my decision to make this fragile cake for a test. But it was remarkably simple, and delicious. The ground walnuts replace the flour in the recipe. I like it with a light lemon frosting or with whipped cream filling and whipped cream frosting. You can flavor the whipped cream as you desire.

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
large pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour or line two cake pans.

Separate eggs. Beat yolks until very light in color. Add ground walnuts and sugar and vanilla and salt. Beat whites until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar a little at a time till it's very light and fluffy. Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients until blended. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 25-30 min.


Kids love these. When you make bread, make a half recipe extra for these. Set the extra portion aside and while your other bread is baking, heat 1/8 inch of oil in a pan. Take a ball of dough about the size of your fist and stretch it out until it is about 6-8 inches in diameter. Fry it in the hot oil. Serve with brown sugar, honey or jam, or, as I like it, with a thin layer of sour cream sprinkled with brown sugar.

I like this challah recipe for buckskinners, but any yeast bread dough will do.

This is a fun thing to do on a rainy day. Kids love stretching out the dough and eating the buckskinners.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies . . .

I have vegan friends with vegan kids, so I am always on the lookout for good vegan recipes. This one is from The Urban Housewife.

And I quote:
Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
dash of salt
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup Spectrum Brand non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup applesauce mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup warm water
*1 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder (optional)
*2 teaspoons semi-sweet chocolate, melted & cooled (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt; set aside. (I like to sift my dry ingredients together, but it's your call!)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, shortening, and applesauce/baking powder mixture & beat for about 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients, milk & water into the wet mixture & beat at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add vanilla & melted chocolate and beat again until mixture is thoroughly blended, but do not over beat, it will be moderately thick.

Using a small ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop by rounded tablespoons onto a Silpat or un-greased non-stick cookie sheet leaving room for the pies to spread. Smooth out the tops of your scoops, as this will affect the aesthetic of your pies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick comes out clean. These are very cake like in texture, be careful not to over bake them.

Let them cool for a few minutes, then remove them from the cookie sheet to cool on wire racks. They need to cool completely before the peanut butter filling can be spread on.

Peanut Butter Filling

1 tablespoon Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons soy milk

In a large bowl, beat together Earth Balance and peanut butter.

Add the confectioners' sugar and slowly add the soy milk, beating with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add more milk if needed, then beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

Assemble your Whoopie Pies!
Take one cookie & spread a layer of peanut butter filling in the center, not quite touching the ends, apply another cookie on top & you're golden! woo.

This yields around 16 whoopie pies, depending on the size of your ice cream scoop.

Quick Creme Frite - Crema Frita - Fried Creams

I love Creme Frite, the Venetian fried cream dessert. But it takes a long time to make it the usual way. Here is a quicker recipe that is almost as good.

1. The "custard"

16 oz. cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream or condensed (not evaporated) milk.
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or 1 tsp. lemon zest

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Pour into a well-greased pan to about 1/2 inch thickness (You may need more than one pan.) Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours, until set. The custard must be very very firm. If it is too soft, put it in the freezer for 4-6 hours, until it is firm, but still cuttable.

2. The Coating

Unseasoned bread crumbs, crushed very fine
2 Tbsp flour
2 eggs
cooking oil

Heat oil on medium heat.

Mix bread crumbs and flour. (You can add a little lemon zest if you like.)

Cut cream cheese mixture into 1 1/2 inch squares. Dip squares in egg and then roll in bread crumb flour mixture until completely covered. Fry in hot oil until browned on each side. Drain on paper towels. You can keep them hot in a 250 degree oven for a few minutes until ready to serve.

Serve immediately with lemon sauce, raspberry sauce or the sauce of your choice and a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

And here is a Recipe for an Ancient Roman dessert

Monday, October 29, 2007

Veg Lasagna Rolls . . .

This is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables.

Two large (8 inch square) lasagna noodles

1 beaten egg

1 large can tomato sauce

¾ cup grated skim milk mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan

herbs to taste

Filling of your choice

Parboil noodles until they are flexible but not fully cooked.

Place on greased surface.

Spread with desired filling.

Roll up like a jellyroll. Seal edges with a bit of beaten egg.

Cut into ½ inch pieces and place in greased baking dish.

Cover with tomato sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes

Suggested fillings:

I often put broccoli chopped fine, grated carrot and spinach in them, but you can put in whatever you like. Sauteed mushrooms, ricotta cheese, chopped artichokes, savoy cabbage and string beans also work well.


These delicious Uzbek-Afghan lamb dumplings are lightly spiced.

2 lbs ground lamb
1 large onion chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
ready-made wonton wrappers
3 tbsp canola oil

1 cup plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic. finely minced
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped finely
1 cup red kidney beans, cooked and cooled
pinch of salt

Make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate overnight so the yoghurt absorbs the flavors.

Heat oil and fry onions until caramelized. Add garlic and meat and stir so the meat doesn't clump. Add salt and pepper.

Let meat mixture cool so you don't burn your fingers. Place 1 tsp. in the middle of a won ton wrapper, then seal with a tiny bit of water if necessary. Reserve 1/4 cup of lamb mixture.

Place dumplings in a steamer and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with the yoghurt sauce, and sprinkle with remaining lamb.

Note: I find lowfat yoghurt works as well as regular yoghurt, but nonfat is a little thin.

If you live place where ready made wonton wrappers aren't available, there's a decent recipe for the homemade version here.

"A porcupine speaking to its baby says, 'O my child of velvet.'"
Afghan Proverb

Mint Cucumber Salad

This is similar to the Greek Tzaziki, but with the addition of fresh mint. It goes well with Kabuli Pulao and any mutton dish.

1 cup plain yoghurt (I use nonfat yoghurt)
1 tsp fresh mint, shopped finely
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Mix ingredients and store overnight, covered, in fridge. This allows the yoghurt to absorb the mint flavor.

2 large cucumbers, peeled, quartered and sliced

Stir yoghurt dressing into cucumbers and mix until they are well-coated.

Kabuli Pulao

Also known as qabuli pulao, this is a wonderful and tasty rice dish full of good things. I ate this with an Afghan friend and modified the recipe slightly to make it less spicy. Chicken and chicken broth can be substituted for the mutton elements.

2 cups basmati rice
2 cups mutton broth
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup cauliflower flowerets, cooked
1 cup peas
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cardamon
1 lb. stewing mutton

Stew the mutton ahead of time, preserving two cups of the broth. Refrigerate the mutton pieces. (I do this a day ahead, and refrigerate the broth too so it's easy to skim the fat off it.)

Grease a casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute nuts, carrots and cauliflower in 1 tbsp of butter, stirring often, until lightly cooked.

Make the rice using the broth to substitute for 2 cups of the water required. When the rice is almost done, add the other ingredients, including the remaining tbsp of butter, except for the mutton pieces, and cook five more minutes. Add mutton and pour into large greased casserole or dutch oven and bake 10-15 minutes, covered. If rice is too dry add 1/4 cup water or mutton broth before baking. Serve with Afghan bread or pita bread and cucumber yogurt salad. Kids love this dish too and it microwaves nicely the next day. The Afghans eat this with their hands while sitting cross-legged on cushions.
"If you deal in camels, make the doors high."
Afghan Proverb

Jac'y's Apple Pie

This sounds strange to some people, an apple pie with a cheddar cheese pastry crust. But it is delicious. My family used to have this once a month, usually with vanilla ice cream.


3 cups flour, pastry or all-purpose
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup finely grated mature cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
5-6 tbsp. cold water
Put shortening and grated cheddar in food processor and mix until cheese and shortening are well-blended. Refrigerate mixture one half hour. Mix flour and salt. Cut shortening mixture into flour mixture until it is pea-sized. Add cold water one tbsp at a time until the mixture sticks together without crumbling. Refrigerate one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Form two portions, and roll each one out until it is large enough for a 9" pie pan.

7 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. flour
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add apple slices and mix until they are all well-coated. Pour into pie plate and cover with top crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is light brown.

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”
Jane Austen